Just before heart transplant surgery, the patient will get general anesthesia (AN-es-THE-ze-ah). The term "anesthesia" refers to a loss of feeling and awareness. General anesthesia temporarily puts you to sleep.
Surgeons use open-heart surgery to do heart transplants. The surgeon will make a large incision (cut) in the patient’s chest to open the rib cage and operate on the heart.
A heart-lung bypass machine is hooked up to the heart’s arteries and veins. The machine pumps blood through the patient's lungs and body during the surgery.
The surgeon removes the patient’s diseased heart and sews the healthy donor heart into place. The patient’s aorta and pulmonary arteries are not replaced as part of the surgery.
Heart transplant surgery usually takes about 4 hours. Patients often spend the first days after surgery in the intensive care unit of the hospital.